Born in India and raised in upstate NY, Nair grew up spending many summers with family in India (Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi). Later, she understood India from a new perspective. Trained as a historian of South Asia, she conducted archival and oral historical research and has done fieldwork in India (Maharashtra and Gujarat) since 1996. She has also worked with Indian communities in East Africa, England, and the US.
She joined Furman in 2003 after teaching at Mount Holyoke College and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, she co-founded, with Dr. Kailash Khandke, Furman’s India study abroad program and has co-directed the 2008, 2009 and 2013 trips. She is a former co-chair of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor. Nair served as the Local Arrangements Chair for the Southeastern Conference of the Association of Asian Studies (SECAAS) hosted by Furman in 2012, and currently is a member of the Executive Committee of SECAAS. With Asian Studies’ faculty, she participated in a 2-week Mellon-funded faculty seminar in Japan in 2004.
Her research focuses on the South Asian diaspora and transnationalism, in particular 19th-20th century migrant networks between India and eastern Africa. Her teaching emphasizes critical histories of ancient and modern India, gender, nationalism, and globalization. She finds great fulfillment in teaching college students about the historical depth and contemporary significance of the world’s second most populous country and world’s largest democracy.